Category Archives: Things to Do in Las Vegas

New York-New York’s Roller Coaster Set to Be a VR Coaster

Virtual reality seems to be taking over Las Vegas, and the iconic roller coaster at New York-New York is rumored to be converting to a VR Coaster soon.

Virtual reality roller coasters, or VR Coasters, have been in existence since 2015, and there are currently about 20 operating at theme parks throughout the U.S.

On VR Coasters, riders don virtual reality headsets, and animations inside the headsets are synchronized to the movements of the real world roller coaster.

New York-New York VR coaster

Hold onto your virtual moobs.

The conversion of the Big Apple Coaster at New York-New York to a VR Coaster is a brilliant business move. It provides a unique experience, it encourages those who have ridden the coaster before to do it again, and it also gives the resort an opportunity to bump up the ticket price to enhance the bottom line.

At the moment, tickets for the Big Apple Coaster are a very reasonable $15.

Once the coaster becomes a virtual reality roller coaster, the price could be bumped up to $25 or more. Multiply that $10 increase over the approximately 1.4 million customers each year, and New York-New York and its parent company, MGM Resorts, are in for a windfall.

Here’s a look at a promotional video for VR Coasters, although, from what we hear, there’s no video that can really show the exhilaration guests experience on a VR-equipped ride.

There’s been no official announcement yet, but our philosophy is if it’s in a news release, it’s too damned late.™

Word is New York-New York is partnering with a German company to bring the VR Coaster experience to the Strip resort.

We haven’t ferreted out the name of the company yet, but a company called VR Coaster seems a likely candidate. They got the VR Coaster ball rolling, and describe themselves as “pioneers of the augmented thrill ride.”

New York-New York casino

You’re so pretty.

While can be some perils with VR Coasters, mostly related to motion sickness when VR units are out of sync with the movement of the ride, a VR Coaster at New York-New York has virtually limitless potential.

We are not a roller coaster person (mainly because we tend to be a motion sickness and terrified-of-heights person), but give us an animation that includes some stunning Las Vegas effects or a Las Vegas-themed adventure, and we’d be all over it.

From what we understand, the VR feature on the New York-New York roller coaster will be an optional element, and guests can still ride the coaster in the traditional manner.

To be clear, the Big Apple coaster isn’t going anywhere! The ride will just be “enhanced” to include the virtual reality capability, also known as an “upsell.”

Our inside scoop about the New York-New York’s coaster becoming a VR Coaster follows on the heels of another virtual reality-related announcement, which we reported nearly two months before it came out in a news release, of course.

The first multi-player, free-roam VR experience in Las Vegas is set to open at Level Up inside MGM Grand on Sep. 8, 2017.

Up to eight players will navigate a 2,000-square-foot arena and play one of three, 30-minute experiences at a cost of about $50 a pop.

Here’s a look at what it’s like to get your VR nerd on.

The three VR experiences are Zombie Survival (blast zombies, already), Singularity (blast rogue robits, already) and Engineerium (solve physics-based puzzles, already).

The new VR experience at Level Up, from a company called Zero Latency, seems to be a response to a failed attempt to get approval for its arena-style gaming area (from a company called Interblock) that was supposed to “revolutionize the casino player culture.” We are not making this up.

Level Up has struggled since it opened at the end of 2016, but a virtual reality arena could give it a much-needed boost.

Level Up MGM Grand

MGM Grand’s Level Up hasn’t found a foothold yet, but it may just find a virtual one.

Other VR experiments have been showing up around Las Vegas, including a VR lounge at Alto Bar at Caesars Palace, and we even spotted a virtual reality kiosk at Harmon Corner.

There’s also a VR Adventures location at the Linq promenade.

VR Adventures Linq

Warning: Virtual reality headsets do not prevent pregnancy, but they do prevent sex, which is sort of the same thing.

At one point, there were rumblings about a “virtual reality theme park” coming to town, but we haven’t heard anything more about it. Don’t hold your breath.

Virtual reality seems a good fit for Las Vegas, as the city constantly strives to evolve its entertainment offerings. There’s even been talk of strip clubs integrating virtual reality.

In a way, Las Vegas is a city built on virtual reality, or at least an alternate one.

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Free Downtown Loop Shuttle Service Launches

There’s a new way to get around downtown Las Vegas, and it’s free.

The Downtown Loop shuttle service is a six-month pilot program paid for by the City of Las Vegas.

The service runs daily, and bumps uglies (probably not the official term) with seven stops in downtown Las Vegas.

Downtown Loop Las Vegas

The folks at Pawn Plaza and the Mob Museum must know a guy.

The Downtown Loop stops at Bonneville Transit Center, The Arts District, Pawn Plaza, Fremont East (on Las Vegas Boulevard, south of Fremont Street), the Mob Museum, Fremont Street Experience (Main Street, south of Fremont) and Las Vegas North Premium Outlets.

The free shuttle runs from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, 3:00 p.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday and 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Sundays. The 19-passenger buses hit their stops about every 20 minutes.

The new shuttle is a great way to explore parts of downtown you might not otherwise venture to, especially Fremont East, the Mob Museum and Pawn Plaza.

The shuttle costs a pretty penny, $550,000 ($275,000 for the first six months with an option to extend), but would likely be continued if deemed successful, based upon ridership and economic impact.

It remains to be seen what the interest level is. It’s likely the City of Las Vegas will want businesses benefiting from the shuttles to pay for them if they become a permanent offering.

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PBR Rock Bar Creates Inspired, Awkward Photo Op With Bedazzled Bull Testicles

We’ll say it right up front: We never imagined we’d type those words in that order, ever.

Nevertheless, PBR Rock Bar at Planet Hollywood has created a must-see photo op by decorating a bull statue in an audaciously eye-catching way.

PBR Rock Bar bull balls

PBR Rock Bar at Planet Hollywood has managed to turn one of the worst views in Las Vegas into one of the most brilliant.

We’ve written about offbeat Las Vegas photo ops in the past, and shared stories about the city’s phallic objects, but this bold decorative touch stands out for its sheer originality and undeniable flair.

Simply put, nothing says Las Vegas like a bull with disco bull.

PBR Rock Bar

In case you’ve ever wondered what makes this blog special. And your impertinence is duly noted.

Hello, Pulitzer Prize.

PBR Rock Bar, of course, is home to a variety of bulls, including a mechanical one.

We trust mirrors were added to the bull’s “boys” as a reflection of the restaurant’s irreverent and fun-loving atmosphere.

You never know what surprises await in Las Vegas!

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Tipsy Robot’s Automated Bartenders Are a Riveting New Diversion on the Las Vegas Strip

A pair of robotic bartenders have created some serious buzz since a new bar, Tipsy Robot, opened inside Miracle Mile Shops at the Planet Hollywood Las Vegas resort.

Tipsy Robot Las Vegas

“Kuka” is a German word meaning, “Bow before your new robotic bartender overlords.”

Tipsy Robot is billed as the “first land-based robotic bar.” There’s another pair of robot bartenders on Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas cruise liner, but these are infinitely better, because Las Vegas.

Tipsy Robot Las Vegas

You can’t spell “tipsy” without “tips,” and, ironically, robot bartenders don’t accept those.

As marketing gimmicks go, this is one of the best we’ve ever seen, and crowds were gathering to watch the robots mix drinks even before the venue opened to the public.

We were utterly mesmerized as the dynamic duo deftly delivered drinks. See for yourself in our hastily slapped-together video.

That adorable little dance, though.

So, here’s all the Tipsy Robot skinny.

Guests place orders via one of 33 tablets. There’s a robust list of 18 signature cocktails, but guests may order custom-built drinks, too.

Tipsy Robot Las Vegas

Park it at a tablet and make some mechanical mixology magic.

For an existing drink, it’s just a matter of making a selection and providing a name and e-mail address.

For custom drinks, guests can choose from virtually unlimited options, from the kind of liquor (Tipsy Robot boasts 172 bottles, or 59 different brands) to exact proportions of liquor and mixers and ice.

There are 14 “portions” in all. For example, we ordered a rum and Coke with two parts rum, six parts Coke and six parts ice. We really like ice.

Tipsy Robot Las Vegas

Tipsy Robot serves Captain Morgan Silver. We’re trying to get past it.

Once an order is placed and paid for with a credit card (drinks are $14 for a standard drink with one shot of alcohol), it goes into a queue. That’s a fancy European term for “line.”

The robots take anywhere from a minute to 90 seconds to prepare a drink, so the virtual line moves quite quickly.

A fun part of the process is that video displays keep track of where your order is in the queue, and you can tell when your specific drink is being made.

Tipsy Robot Las Vegas

Analytics! See where you are in the queue, the most popular drinks being ordered and trends related to the consumption of various drink categories. You are officially a world-class nerd.

While a drink is being prepared, an e-mail is sent to the address given when the order was placed.

The e-mail contains a QR code which, when scanned, “unlocks” the drink. This ensures nobody can abscond with a cocktail.

Tipsy Robot Las Vegas

Set your drink free with your QR code. QR codes are like bar codes. Emphasis on “bar.”

That’s it.

The robots prepare drinks element by element, grabbing ice from a dispenser, extracting liquor from bottles hanging overhead, slicing fruit, shaking up the drink and pouring the cocktails ever-so-carefully into plastic cups.

What don’t the robot bartenders do? They don’t take breaks, they don’t accept tips and they don’t provide straws.

There are attendants in space-aged uniforms to handle the straw thing.

Tipsy Robot Las Vegas

The robot helpers are called “Galactic Ambassadors.” Just play along.

During our visit, we chatted up Rino Armeni, owner of the 2,500-square-foot Tipsy Robot and Chairman of Robotic Innovations. He said, “I’m very proud that Las Vegas finally has something different, new, and most importantly, ahead of its time.”

Armeni is a charismatic Italian whose enthusiasm is contagious.

“In food and beverage,” Armeni says, “I think we’ve been asleep at the wheel lately. It’s been a matter of recycling, rather than being inventive.”

Yes, he actually said “sleeping on the wheel,” but we know what he meant.

Armeni continues, “We want to be almost like the fountains of Bellagio, the ‘Welcome to Las Vegas’ sign. We want people to come and experience this kind of entertainment.”

Tipsy Robot Las Vegas

Owner Rino Armeni greets Tipsy Robot guests, assuring them he’s never heard the word “Skynet” before.

Armeni is careful to point out he considers the robot bartenders entertainment, rather than a replacement for actual bartenders.

In fact, Tipsy Robot has a “Human Bar,” with humans serving up the libations.

The robot bartenders aren’t fully autonomous, of course. A human being is still tasked with replacing the liquor bottles.

When we asked an insider how much the robots cost, the answer was along the lines of “a metric ass-ton.”

Tipsy Robot Las Vegas

Humans and robots have many things in common, including an ongoing need for lubrication.

Tipsy Robot is looking to crowdsource the names of the robots. Siegfried and Roy leap to mind. Find out more on the Tipsy Robot Facebook page.

Tipsy Robot is open from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 10:00 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday.

Here’s another look at these modern marvels. You may not be able to tell these robot bartenders your problems, but you’ll always know the precise size of your pour.

Tipsy Robot Las Vegas

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Zombie Apocalypse Store Closes, Converts to Bitcoin Store

It came in with an “Aaargh!” and went out with barely a whimper.

The Zombie Apocalypse Store, a quirky Las Vegas retail store and attraction, has closed.

Zombie Apocalypse Store

Ah, the memories. The Zombie Apocalypse Store is currently pushing up daisies.

The store called it quits with zero fanfare or news coverage in May 2017 after a liquidation process where fans could purchase zombie and doomsday-inspired tchotchkes at garage sale prices.

Here’s a look back at the Zombie Apocalypse Store.

We’re saddened to learn of the passing of the Zombie Apocalypse Store, an undeniably memorable destination for “biter” fans and hardcore survivalists.

Zombie Apocalypse Store

Here’s a photo from 2013, long before the Zombie Apocalypse Store apocalypse.

The store housed a wide variety of zombie-related merchandise like emergency water filtration systems and food supplies, ammo, stun guns and roamer-killing weaponry.

Zombie Apocalypse Store

Not gonna lie, it got a little awkward.

The Zombie Apocalypse most recently hosted a 3-D zombie photo studio and zombie shooting gallery. See more.

After a little more than five years of operation (the store opened in November 2011), the once-brisk zombie business began to decay, so the store’s owners decided to pivot to the booming Bitcoin business.

That’s right, the Zombie Apocalypse Store has risen from the dead, becoming Bitcoin Central Las Vegas.

Bitcoin, of course, is what’s known as an alternative currency, or digital currency. Bitcoin got its start in 2009 as the first decentralized cryptocurrency. There’s been a lot of buzz about Bitcoin recently as the digital currency’s value has skyrocketed.

As with so many things in Las Vegas, we didn’t realize how attached we’d become to the Zombie Apocalypse Store until we learned it was gone.

Zombie Apocalypse Store

Part tongue-in-cheek, part deadly serious, the Zombie Apocalypse Store was a singular Las Vegas attraction.

Zombies in Las Vegas aren’t going down without a fight, however.

There’s the Zombie Apocalypse Experience at Adventure Combat Ops, a Zombie Hunt package at Range 702, an upcoming zombie attraction called Fear the Walking Dead: Survival at Fremont Street Experience (where we work in digital marketing) and the well-reviewed Zombie Burlesque show at V Theater inside the Miracle Mile Shops.

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Austin “Chumlee” Russell’s Candy Shop Opens at Pawn Plaza in Downtown Las Vegas

Austin “Chumlee” Russell, one of the stars of the Las Vegas-based “Pawn Stars” reality series, has opened a new candy store, Chumlee’s Candy on the Boulevard.

The candy shop is located in Pawn Plaza, a shopping complex adjacent to the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop made, y’know, world famous, on “Pawn Stars.”

During our recent visit, Chumlee himself was greeting fans at the shop and said he expects to do so often.

Chumlee candy shop

Chumlee’s candy shop features classics like Turkish Taffy, Astro Pops and Niklnips, at least one of which sounds like a stripper name.

The shop is co-owned by Chumlee and his brother, Sage Russell.

Chumlee’s candy shop is diminutive, as it inhabits a shipping container, but has a solid collection of sweets, including many retro candies sure to strike a nostalgic chord with guests.

The candy selection reflects Chumlee’s personal favorites such as Bottle Caps and Razzles.

Chumlee candy shop

It seems somebody’s lollipop has delusions of grandeur.

The prices are a tad on the steep side, so don’t think of it as “candy,” per se. The candy is just an excuse to rub elbows with a reality TV star. They aren’t candy cigarettes, they’re “Pawn Stars” mementos, emphasis on the Mentos. Which we don’t recall seeing at the shop, but just play along.

Oh, that’s right, we went for the candy cigarettes ($2). We also snagged SweeTarts ($2.75, deep breaths), Red Vines ($2.45), Pop Rocks ($1.85) and candy buttons ($1.97).

Chumlee candy on the boulevard

Don’t judge us. It’s Las Vegas.

Chumlee and his brother Sage were helpful and friendly, indulging requests for autographs and selfies.

Our receipt said “Cashier: Austin Russell,” but his brother was actually the one pulling cashier duty.

There was a short line outside the shop during our visit, mainly because the store can only accommodate six guests at a time.

The shop is open noon to 5:00 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday (closed Monday and Tuesday).

Chumlee candy shop

The “Boulevard” in the name is Las Vegas Boulevard, the most glorious of all thoroughfares.

Pawn Plaza has had quite a bit of turnover in recent months, so it’s gratifying to see another new tenant in place.

We quite like the nearby Jared’s Old Fashioned Hot Dogs & Hamburgers, as one does not live by candy buttons alone.

Here’s hoping Chumlee and his brother can make a go of Chumlee’s Candy on the Boulevard. It’s unknown if “Pawn Stars” will be picked up by the History network for a 15th season, so it’s an ideal time for the show’s stars to explore other ventures.

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